Out of the Tidal Pool - New to Forum

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Out of the Tidal Pool - New to Forum

Post  BigC on 9th June 2009, 10:12 pm

Hi Guys,
I'm Colin and I live in Northern Ireland, I'm pretty new to the marine scene and found my way over to your site through a fellow Aussie (pkc) posting pics of your fabulous expeditions on our forum. They are truly amazing. I have had the opportunity of visiting you great land on many occasions and I am about to do again in March 2010. I've been in contact with pkc and he has said that there may be a chance of hooking up with you guys for a daytrip and a few beers.
I have only been keeping marines for a couple of years now and I am currently building my new aquarium (4x2x2) I currently have a Nano (24x12x18)

The Tunze rock covering the pump has since coloured up (coraline) since this pic.
Here are some pics of my new venture, I hope you dont mind me cluttering up your forum with such.
This is the start of what is envisaged to be a long drawn out project. I will attempt to both share and show the membership my personal ideas on how to go about building a Saltwater Reef based aquarium from scratch. It may not be unorthodox at times and some folks may do things a little differently and get better results, but this and subsequent threads in the series is purely intended to portray how to go about taking some sheets of glass and turning them into a small slice of tropical ocean.

Before I begin I would like to fill you in on some background information on how I have arrived at this juncture and the yearn to build an aquarium from scratch. Initially my inspiration was gleaned from visiting The Great Barrier Reef (http://www.ladyelliot.com.au/). Upon my return from Australia I embarked upon a small Nano tank and catalogued it's build ([url="http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?showtopic=202153"]Dawn on the Reef[/url]) This was fine for a couple of years, but I eventually wanted something that I could really get my teeth into (not to mention my wallet) Laughing A short while back , my wife and I visited my sister-in-law in Ipswich (essentially a maritime town). We were in a pub one evening, the internal doors of the pub were festooned with circular windows and were framed with brass portholes. The nucleus was born.
So with the idea firmly planted in my noggin I find myself back home with one thing on my mind.
Portholes!!! Large Portholes!!!

The actual tank I would be building would sort of fit into the middle bracket range of home aquariums (100-200ltrs)

The proposed statistics for the finished article are:-
Tank Size - 4' x 2' x 2' ( 1219 x 610 x 610)

Main Tank Volumes before displacement
Volume in litres: 453.069545
Volume in imperial gallons: 99.674303
Volume in US gallons: 119.701336

These are a nice size of porthole mirror. (I will remove the glass) They are a Bronze colour and are quite heavy and robust. The colour fits well with the rest of the decor.

The first things first as they say was to get the raw material cut to size, as I work in a glass factory and a glasscutter by trade this was not a problem. For neatness I also had all the edges polished

The next job in hand was to have the base of the aquarium milled by CNC machine to accept the bulkheads for the overflows and returns in a corner weir.

A series of three holes were milled in the left rear corner of the base (the holes have to be cut larger than the actual bulkhead stated sizes)

These holes would accept the Bulkheads (2x 40mm & 1x 25mm)

Two larger drains at the rear and a smaller return to the fore

Finally made a start on building the tank.
Due to the Garage still being full of crap, I have taken up residence in the sitting room with my old Banjo and Piano.
Anyway please excuse odd picture angles and suchlike due to space limitations.

The front is already in situ on this shot, I'm now working on the end panels. (I would normally start with the ends, but this stuffs bloomin heavy)
Notice the small tacking bead of silicone on the base section the same is applied to one edge of the end panel where it meets the front.

All squared up and taped and support given due to lack of help (all family at work)

End adhered to the front panel, squared and taped

Wider angled shot

Both end panes and the front is now tacked, awaiting the back panel.

I got the last panel (back pane) tacked, levelled and squared.
The whole thing is now banded and waiting to cure. All went smoothly with no hiccups.

Well the banding tapes are all off now and I have been throwing this tank around somewhat this morning. No creeks or cracks to be heard.

I've moved on to taping the inside of the tank in preparation for the eventual sealing.
I am going with a 10mm bead width on this tank as it's the biggest one in regards to width and depth that I have built thus far.
I have built six footers before for which I only used 8mm bead width.

Some of the tools employed to make the 10mm bead runs.

A picture showing the 10mm bead channels

All done!

All I have to do now is clean the channels with some thinners and were good to go.

I've just finished tacking, squaring, taping and sealing the Weir Box. I didn't want to waste a silicone nozzle as the tank itself requires a larger fillet.

The aquarium is now fully sealed and all the tapes have been removed

The Weir Box has been placed in situ and checked for squareness.

In the following two pics the Weir Box has been tacked to the walls of the aquarium with a fine bead of silicone
(A water barrel as be placed against the assembly until the silicone cures.

I Fabricated my weir comb from some black plastic Soffit Vent Strip
(see below for profile)

I spent a little time cutting and fitting the Weir Comb. The first job was to cut the piece of black soffit in half

I have cut the Weir Comb

into one length to begin with

Then I cut it to the exact length and mitred the corners for a neat tidy fit.

This now slots neatly on top of the glass Weir Box

All finished, now on to the next little job!....The Bracing

Well we are nearing the end of this aquarium build and I've completed the bracing. Things really did go as smooth as expected, no major hiccups were encountered so I am relieved to have got to this stage.
So here follows some photos of the actual tank bracing.

Clamps holding the front bracing spar in situ.

The front bracing spar

A close-up shot of the clamping on the front bracing spar

Another shot of the front spar

The rear bracing spar, levelled and clamped in situ

The cross brace 200mmx8mm (centred and sealed)

Well all the braces are in place now and once cured and sealed I will move onto the internal plumbing.

The curtain is now ready to close on this particular section pertaining to the build in of this tank. All that is left is for me to perform some internal plumbing and give the project a good clean.

In the meantime here are some pictures concerning the in-tank plumbing

The washers on the Bulkheads must be removed as these will eventually rot in a Saltwater environment and could eventually lead to leaks (Which wouldn't endear me to my better half if that happened No)

So with all the washers discarded, we're good to go!

A generous bead of silicone is applied to each flange of the Bulkhead before connecting to the tank

This photo shows all the Bulkheads inserted in the tank base and silicone allowed to cure

Next the pipework is cut to size. The larger 40mm pipe is the actual overflow (it is cut just slightly lower than the height of the weir wall), the smaller 40mm pipe is used primarily for sound dampening purposes, which I will explain later in another chapter of this build. The 25mm pipe with the 90 and 45 degree bends is for the return from the sump.

Finally all the pipework is placed in situ, but as yet not joined with solvent weld glue. All the hard jointing will be performed later.

Well that just about wraps up this chapter in the building of a Reef Aquarium, I hope you have enjoyed reading through these pages and I would like to thank all those who viewed and commented as we went along.

Hope you were able to glean something from this topic.
Happy Reefkeeping

Last edited by BigC on 12th June 2009, 11:50 pm; edited 1 time in total

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very cool!!

Post  liquidg+ on 10th June 2009, 12:36 am

Hey i like the back ground,that is so cool.

In some of our competition and show display tanks they glue small coral sections on to the backs of some tanks,normally coraline chunks and some old stags,it looks good,but yours would make an excelent bio area with the rough sruface,a part from the spots to place life forms to take hold and live well.

Thanks for sharing that bigc.


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Re: Out of the Tidal Pool - New to Forum

Post  atdm on 11th June 2009, 1:55 am

Mate nice Nano

I spend a whole season in dublin working

Lovely place

Mate when you come down here make sure you contact us to have a couple of beers, bbq and talk aquariums for a while


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Re: Out of the Tidal Pool - New to Forum

Post  BigC on 11th June 2009, 7:58 pm

Cheers PK,

Mate when you come down here make sure you contact us to have a couple of beers, bbq and talk aquariums for a while
You can bank on that one, I would really love to share some time with you guys,
We are comming over next Easter time for three weeks. We will be staying (Hopefully) with relatives in Beenleigh/Eagleby. We usually hire a car and travel around a little. But going on a trip and sharing quality fishy time with like-minded folks would just put the icing on the cake for me.
Last time over we went to Lady Elliot which was amazing (but very expensive) but knowing that you don't have to go to that expense given what marine life is on your doorstep is awesome.
Looking forward to this people. Need to get a good camera sorted.Laughing
Here's a few more pics from the Nano


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Post  Admin on 12th June 2009, 12:03 am

I like the zoanthids,they are a personal favourite and make a top addition to a tank.
How do you go with the neptunes knecklace the green Halimeda macroloba coraline?? bottom right).
For me it has a habit of powering for ages and suddenly white skeletal remains. Shocked
Very nice tank bigc.That back ground is a winner.
And what do you mean (may be a chance),we are friendly mob over here.

Here is a pic of some of the zoas at the rock pool out wide we go to and see there,this place is absolute parradise.

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Re: Out of the Tidal Pool - New to Forum

Post  BigC on 12th June 2009, 12:58 am

The Halimeda Macro Algae grows really well in my small tank, need to keep pruning it from time to time as it can get to the point of being invasive if left unchecked. I have even more in the sump.

Early pic of sump, and skimmer upgrade now home to Liverock and macro algae (Pod Haven)

Yeah I wasn't sure about the background M8 but I'm glad I persevered with it. Going with another man-made structure (snowcrete/aragonite sand/salt mix) for the upgrade.
Must be an Aussie thing friendliness, as that's all we came across on our travels down under, folks you don't know from Adam always willing to lend a helping hand. We love the place.
Thanks for looking at the thread mate, Its good to chat with folks from different countries, sorta broadens the horizons of the hobby.
Cant wait to meet you all.

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Post  Admin on 12th June 2009, 1:09 am

The (snowcrete/aragonite sand/salt mix) set up.That is the back ground you are talking about???
Could you put that on in detail when you can,i like the sound of that,if it is the back ground,it sounds better than live rock!

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Re: Out of the Tidal Pool - New to Forum

Post  BigC on 12th June 2009, 5:00 pm

Yeah its for the background M8,
Heres a link to Simon Garrett's Reef Eden site where the idea originated from and to give you more insight.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Mix the Snowcrete with the argonite sand and the salt. You can used crushed coral and shells if you so wish for a more natural look.
The salt dissolves and leaves you with a rock structure that's very porous. Due to the cement it needs to be cured in water for a good 7-8 weeks before you can use it in an aquarium. I will post some pictures as and when I get to this stage
I will be covering the back and side walls with the porous crete and a few structures in the foreground (Bommies). Then I will add some Live rock to get the whole thing seeded. Should look well if I can execute the thing properly.

Meanwhile A friend of mine has been building the stand for the new tank to sit on.
The main aquarium has been finished for quite a while so its now time to move onto the construction of the stand. This job is predominately out of my hands and I have become an innocent bystander whilst a work colleague does his thing. My only input was to draw up a simple sketch with measurements and to leave it in his capable hands.
The finished piece of work will measure (L-W-H) 48x24x39 inches (1219x610x991mm)
The basis of the stand is constructed from 50mm Box and Angle Iron/Steel (I think) and is made up from a front and back welded frame which is then joined together with cross members. My friend has also included heavy duty levelling bolts on each leg section for me to make it stand level on the garage floor. The finished article will have two tiers, one for the main aquarium on top and one for the sump underneath, with plenty of room allowed for me to get my elbows wet. Not bad for a guy who stated he wants nothing for the build as he's just using up his scrap metal, but needless to say I will be paying him for his time and expertise, I cant expect someone to fashion such a bespoke piece of work for nothing.

Here is the starting point, the raw material as it were, 50mm Box Section and 50mm Angled Iron/Steel.

One of the completed frames (front or back) Stood up on edge.

Heavy Duty Levelling Bolts in the leg sections

22mm Leveling Bolt.

As you can appreciate this is just the beginning of the fabrication of the stand which will have to hold a fair weight when done.
When finished the metal will need primed and painted (black, Hammerite smooth)
I am going to use a timber (marine plywood) top to the stand covered in a cork padding to rest the aquarium on.
It will eventually be cladded with wood veneer panelling complete with cupboard doors (when the metalwork is finished)

I must admit I'm really impressed with the project thus far and cant wait until the metalwork is complete.
Here follows a few more pictures of the actual job in question;

The stand is almost ready to have the bottom bracing joined to the main frame

Bottom cross bracing ready to be welded in order to carry the 42" sump tank

Close-up view of the bottom bracing

The main framework turned upside-down with centre spars welded in position

The old boy doing his thing

After a hectic week at work, I managed to get the stand delivered to home sweet home.
It's all finished and complete. Didn't cost me a penny (freebie) I have placed it in the garage (its final resting place) in readiness for painting.

After a good rub with a rag soaked in thinners, I'm now ready to apply the first coat of paint.
Ronseal Triflow (black) is the paint of choice

The first coat is now complete and its looking good.

Readiness for the second coat.

Yesterday I managed to finish the paint job on the stand, two coats and its gleaming like a new pin.

So with painting dispensed with, I headed off to the DIY strore and bought me a sheet of 18mm Exterior Plywood for the top and bottom plinths.
I cut 2 pieces to the size I needed, checked out the bottom plinth for the legs, and set about cutting a hole in the top board to accept the pipes for the plumbing

I drilled four holes and cut out the section with the jig-saw

One hole sucessfully cut in the rear left-hand corner for the plumbing

Looking pretty respectable.

I then needed to address some sort of cushioning for the tank itself. I imagine if I'd have used polystyrene the weight of the tank would have sunk right into this medium and compressed it to nothing. I've opted for a dual layer of cork and rubber padding for this job

Just gauging how many its going to take and laying them out in a dry run

Sticking down the padding

Well she's on her pedastile now.
Looking pretty bare I must admit, but I have high hope for this tank and a few cracking ideas for the scape and the sump.

I will now begin to clad the stand to get it ready for the electrics and sump.


P.S. That is the wall we will be going through. The tank is sitting in the wrong direction presently. I have it this way round as it will be easier to work on.Smile

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Re: Out of the Tidal Pool - New to Forum

Post  DeadSled on 13th June 2009, 3:57 am

Lookin good so far mate. Nice to see another fabricator on the board Laughing And if my eyes aren't playing tricks, looks like we've both got the same welding helmets haha.

The next tank i do, which i plan on doing a 6 or 8 foot tank.. i'm going to make the stand out of stainless steel and Tig weld it all together with a whole lot of gussets as extra support. I've always hated making wooden stands..

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Post  jimmyarcane on 9th July 2012, 4:57 pm

Awesome build , makes me want to have a go Smile maybe a Tall cube with the same weir as you made., Hummmm .. V nice man


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Re: Out of the Tidal Pool - New to Forum

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